Calibrating Your Monitor

Colour calibration

Colour calibration

Have you calibrated your monitor lately?

You’ve spent hours tweaking the color of your photos to coordinate beautifully with your logo before sending brochure files off to the printer. Your print job is delivered, and the color is all wrong. What happened? Most people don’t realize that computer monitors do not come from the factory with precisely calibrated color displays. Monitors are sold at every price point, and even high quality monitors need to be calibrated from time to time.

The best way to ensure that you are seeing colors correctly on your computer monitor is to purchase a calibrating device that will measure your monitor’s output and guide you through the adjustment process. If you are looking for a less expensive solution, there are a number of web-based tools that will help you make these adjustments by eye. C|Net has a helpful tutorial here: Learn how to tweak your desktop or laptop display using free test patterns or the built-in utility in Windows or Mac OS X

“I’ve done all this, and colors are still not being printed the way I’m seeing them on my monitor.” Many of today’s designers don’t realize that ink colors are formulated differently than colors displayed on a monitor, and that print files must be designed with that in mind in order to reproduce the colors shown on screen.

Monitors display light, mixing RGB (red, green, and blue) pixels to create thousands of color variations throughout the visible spectrum. Inks are made up of pigments, either premixed using PMS (Pantone Matching System) formulas or created on press using 4CP (4 color process) that mixes CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) inks to achieve the target colors. The most common reason that printed color does not match the designer’s expectations is that print files were set up using RGB values, rather than PMS or CMYK values.

Lastly, there are different color formulas for different types of paper. Uncoated paper absorbs ink differently than gloss or matte coated paper, and the same color formula can look quite different when printed on different papers. If you are often designing printed items that require critical color accuracy, you may want to invest in a color chip library for reference. Printed color sample books are available from Pantone (click for PMS and process color chip books).

For more information about color calibration, check out this video.

Contact us at if you have specific color questions about your job. Whether you need business cards, doorhangers, brochures or wedding invitations, we are here to help you look good!